Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Young People and Depression - Our Story

I have a daughter.  A beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter.  A young woman who lights up the room when she walks in.  Someone with empathy, an open heart and a refreshing sense of humour.  Someone who has no idea just how special she is.

But my little girl has recently needed help, more than I could give her myself.  Help for the emotional problems that she has been suffering with.  My amazing child has found herself caught up in the dark depths of depression.  At such a young age she has at times experienced the utter despondency and paralysing lows associated with this illness.  She has felt isolation, helplessness and feelings of low self-worth.  Feelings you never want your precious child to feel.

As her parent I have tried to reach her, but it is not easy for either of us.  Sometimes we are just too close. The feeling of personal failure and frustration experienced as a mother, thinking that you are in some way to blame for your child's sorrow stops you being as level headed as you need to be. It's too easy to make it about you and end up transferring your own feelings of guilt onto your child, compounding their own issues.  Similarly, your child's own guilt or embarrassment means they are unable to open up and let go.  They are worried that they will upset you, hurt you or disappoint you.  Sometimes we need outside help.

When I was a teenager I was diagnosed with depression.  I self-harmed.  I struggled to understand my place in this world.  I had the darkest of thoughts and felt the unbearable pressure of life bearing down on my shoulders.  To think that my own child has followed this path is heartbreaking to me, like I have let her down in some way to allow this to happen.  I want her to be happy, confident and to understand just how special she is. I want her to know she will get through this and be a stronger person for it.  I want her to realise that I would do anything to ease her pain.

Is this some genetic curse I have blighted her with or has my own history somehow influenced her at a crucial time in her childhood? Could I have seen it coming and done something about it earlier?  Is this just a part of her, and in loving her unconditionally do I have to just accept the darkness like I accept my own?  We may never understand the reasons, but I for one, promise to give her all the love, support and understanding that I can provide.  She is stronger and more amazing than she knows.  I am so proud of her.

Getting her the appropriate outside help has started us on the path to recovery.  I hope and pray that seeing a therapist will enable her to talk about all the things she can't tell me.  I hope that in doing so she will get well.  I want her to sleep peacefully.  I want her to eat healthily.  I want to chase away all the darkness that is threatening to extinguish part of her shining light.  I want my little girl to be carefree, happy and full of life again.  I want her to believe in herself.  I want her to know she can and will be healed.

I urge any parents of teenagers or young adults not to ignore signs of depression or dismiss them as teenage angst.   Teenagers and young people need real help, real support and should never have their symptoms overlooked.  They are just too precious and the consequences can be devastating.  If you feel that your child is suffering from depression, seek medical help.

Signs and symptoms of depression in teens

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide


  1. amazing post - have shared on my wall. God give you both strength


  2. What a heartfelt post! I feel for you both as I had a dad who was a manic depressive and now I suffer with depression myself . My main worry is that I will find myself in the same position as yourself. I'm sure this post will help others- mental illness is exactly that, an illness yet people still shy from it. I wish you all the best with your daughters therapy and hope it brings some light :)

  3. I know how awful depression and self harming can be and I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must be to see your daughter going through that. I hope with all my heart that the therapy helps and she finds a way to be happy. xxx

  4. Wendy, I'm sat here with tears running down my face at such a heartfelt post. So many people both young and old suffer from depression - it's struck me once in my life and it was truly awful. You cut yourself off but that's the worse thing to do but your head doesn't think straight.

    At least she, and you, have recognised it and it's fabulous that you are dealing with it so positively - and as a family. I really hope the help you are getting works for her.

    Big hugs xx

  5. I'm a firm believer in the idea "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". I know it takes a while to get through the bad times, but they do help us appreciate the good times. Thinking of you and your beautiful and talented daughter xx

  6. I think it's more common than we all realise. Recognising and getting the right help is the key step to recovery. This is a really interesting post and relevant for me. Thank you.

  7. Oh I'm so sorry that your gorgeous girl is suffering, she really is so lovely and talented. I think it's more common than we think; in schools we're finding more and more young people with depression, some as young as five or six with emotional problems. Why? That's the big question I suppose. In some families it's to do with the nurturing (or lack of) and the appalling inability of parents to build self-esteem and self-confidence in their children, in others it's because the social-economic situation that they are immersed in is just too much to bear. With your daughter these are not the reasons; you are a loving, caring and happy family. Maybe it's quite simply down to hormonal surges through puberty? Either way, you are an amazing mum to all of your children and are doing everything you can to help her get better, and she will. Well done for writing this post, as someone who has depression in my family, I know how important it is to speak out about mental health.

  8. I cried when I read you blog because I know how much you are hurting and how confused and isolated poor Ella must sometimes feel. I just want her to know that we love her unconditionally and will always be there for her if she ever needs us. She is a beautiful, talented and special young lady and I just hope and pray that the councelling she is having will help her to recover from her problems..

  9. I'm so sorry to hear your daughter is going through this. As an adult suffering from depression it's so sad to me to think of your lovely daughter experiencing those awful lows that go with it. But I hope by having the support of you as her mum she will be able to take control and banish the black cloud. I think your experiences will only serve to help make her feel better again xx

  10. My heart goes out to you and your daughter, it is bad enough suffering yourself with depression but to watch someone you love, a child especially and not be able to take that suffering away is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing & it is something we should all look out for, these people need our help. Hugs and I hope your gorgeous girl feels better about things soon. xx

  11. I have always suffered from depression. Even as a child I had blue days and felt down and didn't know why. I was really lucky in that my mum recognised the way I felt and made me speak to the GP about it. we had counselling as a family on ways to help. A large part of my problem then and now is lack of sleep. I am not nice when I have a rum of insomnia. But I have come to recognise the signs of my darkness and get treatment, plus I was lucky enough to go through CBT which gave me the tools to make a difference in my life. If she ever wants to talk, then I am always around

  12. Jen, thanks so much for your comment. I've let her know that there is a wonderful, caring person who understands what she is going through, who is willing to talk to her if she ever needs it. She was really touched. Just knowing there are people who care makes such a difference. Thank you xxx

  13. Brilliant post. I found you via Jo's mental health blog carnival today - I am Suzie at No wriggling out of writing and I know from my own experience and from those of others who have guested on my blog that you are not alone in your worries. I wrote a post myself on having fears about how my depression and anxiety would affect my children (called Mental health, motherhood and finding the real me). My daughter couldn't eat or sleep properly either, but she is now a happy and confident 18 year old. It is a hard road but you are there for her. Take care x

  14. Am over here from Jo's mental health carnival. Your post really touched me. I'm so sorry your daughter and you are going through this. It must be very difficult to cope with as a mum, you have all my sympathy.



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